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Fifty-Fifty Custody

People often tell me that their goal for the resolution of their case is 50/50 custody.  I hear the term almost daily in this area of the law.  This term is actually incorrect.

In both Ohio and Kentucky, the courts determine which parent will be the custodial parent or if the parents will share joint custody (KY) or shared parenting (OH).  Parenting time, to which most people are referring to when they say 50/50, is something that is decided separately.

Custody deals with the decisions made about your children. The big areas in which decisions arise are school enrollment/education decisions, medical decisions and enrollment in extracurricular activities. When parents are operating under a shared parenting plan or joint custody arrangement, parents should discuss and agree upon decisions related to their children. When one parent has “full custody” that parent makes the decision and notifies the other parent. In either a situation of shared parenting/joint custody or in which one parent has full custody, both parents are entitled to school records, medical records, etc., unless there is a specific restriction placed on one parent by the court.

Separate from the decision about custody is the parenting time schedule. The parenting time schedule is where your children are physically spending their time, day to day, week to week, over the holidays and for extended or vacation time. Custody and parenting time are linked because the court reviews best interest factors in making the decision about both custody and the parenting time schedule. However there can be situations in which one parent has “full custody” and the other parent has a significant amount of parenting time. Additionally, it is common for the court to order shared parenting or joint custody and something other than a 50-50 parenting time schedule.

It is important to understand the difference.  This will help to ensure that you and your spouse are on the same page when negotiating/discussing moving forward. It is helpful for you to discuss any questions with an attorney to ensure that you understand the distinction and to discuss the factors which the court will use when making a determination.

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